'I had no idea if this was real,' Elgin man says of $10,000 appraisal on 'Antiques Roadshow'
David Dorgan had a good feeling about what an appraiser would say about an antique Roman artifact he brought to an episode of "Antiques Roadshow." As it turns out, it was something else that generated gushing praise and an appraisal of up to $10,200 that stunned him.
"I had no idea if this was real," Dorgan said of the Native American pipe bag and two Native American arm garters he bought 20 years ago for $67.50.
Not only are they real, dating back to about 1880, but "there is a specialness to this that made us all a little chilled," appraiser Linda Dyer of Tennessee told Dorgan on the TV show that aired Jan. 28. Dyer conservatively appraised the pipe bag at $7,000 to $9,000 and the arm bands at $1,000 to $1,200.
"It caused quite a commotion at the table because it truly is beautifully done," she said.
The pipe bag, made of deer hide, was a "man's accoutrement" made to hold the bowl of the pipe, Dyer explained. Its body is probably from the Plains Cree people and the panel drop underneath is probably Sioux, she said.
The pipe bag and arm garters are decorated with seed beads, which were used in trading and came primarily from Venice and Belgium, she said.
The Roman artifact, a stone lamp mold Dorgan was given as a present while he served in the Peace Corps in Tunisia, didn't do too poorly, either -- it was appraised at $1,200, Dorgan said.
Dorgan said he bought the Native American artifacts at a farm auction near Tonica, Illinois, where he randomly stopped after spotting a road sign while he and his family were returning from visiting a friend in Springfield. It was Oct. 27, 1999, a date he remembers well because it was his birthday.
"I liked it. I thought it was interesting," he said of his purchase. "I have no idea who owned it."
Dorgan was city manager in Elgin from 2003 to 2005. He is now semiretired and does some economic development consulting, he said.
He said he occasionally watches "Antiques Roadshow," which airs on PBS. He ended up on the TV show, filmed in April, after he received an email invitation to participate in a lottery for free tickets.
The TV show, described as "part adventure, part history lesson, and part treasure hunt," features hourlong episodes when professionals from auction houses and independent dealers give free appraisals of antiques and collectibles, according to its website.
Dorgan said he went to Florida with a friend, also a retiree, because his wife had to work. The two stayed at a friend's place and enjoyed the experience, which despite the large crowd was very well-run, Dorgan said.
"I was expecting chaotic, but I got organized," he said. "It was a beautiful 1920s mansion with a beautiful setting on the bay."
As for what he wants to do with the artifacts, Dorgan said he contacted a Native American museum and plans to get in touch with more about possibly donating the objects. However, he and his wife also plan to talk with their two sons about what should be done with the items, he said.